Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture (LvMI)

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The economic interpretation of literature is dominated by ideas derived from Marxism — ideas that demonize the market as the enemy of all that is good.


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Rather than merely attack this view, this book, edited by well-known literary critics Paul Cantor University of Virginia and Stephen Cox University of California, San Diego turns the prevailing paradigm upside down — criticism and a theory of criticism from a pro-market point of view. For free-market advocates, it means the discovery of a completely new area of friends in literature, friends that we didn't know we had, people like Willa Cather for example.

Chapter after chapter map this out and prove it with detailed analytics and highly sophisticated, yet readable, criticism of the works in question. The book further argues that literature is one of the most powerful reflections of humanity's freedom, spontaneity, and creativity. Great works of literature buck the trend and break the mold. No one, not even their authors, can predict where they will come from or what form they will take.

They may at first appear chaotic because they violate established literary norms, and only time and greater familiarity reveals the inner logic of their form. Perpetually open-ended in its formal possibilities, literature often celebrates the open-ended nature of human life in general.

Literature and the Economics of Liberty Quotes

Novels, for example, are at their best when they capture the complexity and unpredictability of human behavior, the refusal of human beings to do what conventional logic dictates. We have statistics to tell us what human beings are likely to do en masse; we need literature to chronicle what individuals actually do in the concrete circumstances that constitute their real lives. Human beings are free and literature mirrors that freedom. Literary critics — particularly those influenced by Marxism — often turn texts and the characters they represent into predictable products of their environments.

They view literature as the product of determinate economic and social circumstances, and authors as captives of class consciousness. With its economic determinism, Marxism views all human activity as following general laws and hence as predictable. Marxian critics typically view literature as the product of determinate economic and social circumstances, and authors as captives of class consciousness. This book pursues economic interpretations of literature while respecting the freedom and creativity of authors.

To do so, it draws upon a form of economics — the Austrian School — that places freedom and creativity at the center of its understanding of human action. Austrian economists such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek deny that human behavior is predictable, not just in practice, but more fundamentally in theory. They view the realm of economics as radically uncertain, and understand economic activity as "creative destruction," a never-ending process of making and unmaking modes of production that is the mirror image of artistic activity.

At the heart of Austrian economics is the concept of "spontaneous order. This book explores the idea that spontaneous order is the concept that can bridge the economic and the cultural realms. Austrian economics and literature deal with the same world — the concrete human world of open-ended and infinite possibility. In both Austrian economics and literature, human beings reveal their natures only in concrete acts of choice — the deepest expression of their freedom.

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Literature and the economics of liberty spontaneous order in culture

Black History, Culture, and Literature Bibliography It is these methods which have an irresistible appeal to that hubris in man which associates the benefits of civilization not with spontaneous orderings but with conscious direction towards preconceived ends. Republished with permission of original copyright holders. Black History, Culture, and Literature Bibliography. Paul Cantor - Wikipedia Cantor born is an American literary and media critic. He went on to study English literature at Harvard A.

Cantor has written on a wide range of subjects, including Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Cantor has published extensively on Shakespeare. Republic and Empire , a revision of his doctoral thesis, he analyzes Shakespeare's Roman plays and contrasts the austere, republican mentality of Coriolanus with the bibulous and erotic energies of Antony and Cleopatra. He returns to the Roman plays in Shakespeare's Roman Trilogy: Hamlet , he depicts Hamlet as a man torn between pagan and Christian conceptions of heroism.

In his articles on Macbeth, he analyzes "the Scottish play" using similar polarities. Cantor's second book, Creature and Creator: Cantor has combined his interest in literature with an interest in Austrian Economics. They view the realm of economics as radically uncertain, and understand economic activity as "creative destruction," a never-ending process of making and unmaking modes of production that is the mirror image of artistic activity.

At the heart of Austrian economics is the concept of "spontaneous order. This book explores the idea that spontaneous order is the concept that can bridge the economic and cultural realms.

Literature and the Economics of Liberty Quotes by Paul A. Cantor

Austrian economics and literature deal with the same world — the concrete human world of open-ended and infinite possibility. In both Austrian economics and literature, human beings reveal their natures only in concrete acts of choice — the deepest expression of their freedom. In addition to developing a new framework for understanding and interpreting literature, this book offers rich new readings of a wide range of literary classics from many different nations.

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“The Tradition of Spontaneous Order” – Econlib

Skip to main content. Spontaneous Order in Culture. Buy Now from Mises Store. Human beings are free and literature mirrors that freedom. Literature and the Economics of Liberty is a major critical statement on the relationship between economics and literature. Challenging a Marxist orthodoxy that has tended to dominate literary and cultural studies, this highly original and provocative collection of essays offers a radically new understanding of the relationship between art and the marketplace, one that celebrates the freedom of the individual author and the spontaneous order of modern culture.